User Friendly writing: clear, simple, and precise…or is it?
1 June 2020
Dana Neuman- Rotem
COVID-19 will probably be discussed in length and will definitely be regarded as an abnormal and meaningful event to be told to generation come. One thing I gained from this experience was time. Time at home, time with my partner, time with my children… and time to tidy up the house over and over again. This also included finally, regarding the emails and letters in folders on my computer or binders.
Most of them were still unopened. Yes, I have been saving various letters and emails from service providers, never yet opened. And the big question would be: why?
Why do some letters contain information which is clearly vital to customers, yet they nevertheless decide not to read them?
One answer, in my opinion, is that they are written in a manner which is simply unfriendly to readers.
So, what is friendly writing?
A main issue to be addressed is the writing's goal: is our writing meant to merely "launch" the data towards the reader, heaving the responsibility over to them? Perhaps we should be writing so that the reader comprehends the content easily, even effortlessly? Shouldn't we be intending our reader to feel comfortable while consuming the information?
Businesses should be speaking our customers' 'language'. If we can get our reader to both experience a positive User Experience while consuming the information and call them to act upon it- that is a double win.
So here are 7 tips for friendly writing using our customers' language:
Clear writing: one central message. No double meaning, no interpretation needed.
Concise writing: short and to the point. Write only what is necessary.
Bottom line: the bottom line or most critical message should be stated right at the top, followed by the details.
Think like a customer: monitor the text and review whether what you wrote is clear to you and those around you. Refer to the reader personally, using casual phrasing which does not require their time or patience to understand the message. Lay off the big words.
Transparent, positive writing: write anything relevant to the reader, while maintaining a positive atmosphere- even if the message is actually negative. Focus mainly on what to do rather than what not.
Writing with value added: what does the reader gain? Write information that contributed to their comprehension and calls to action, and (again) focus on the purpose of this letter. Relate to the stages the customer goes through during the service process. Be empathetic and provide value by presenting information relevant to the situation at the right timing.
Visually pleasing writing and display- generate a reading experience that is easy on the eye. Invest thought in the color selection, spacing and use of icons/pictures.
In conclusion, remember- success depends on accessibility, simplicity, and mediating content to customers, attempting to writing more friendly.